The FBI has joined the investigation of the March 16 mass shooting that left eight dead at massage parlors in Acworth and Atlanta.
Authorities told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the suspect, 21-year-old Woodstock resident Robert Aaron Long, confessed to the shootings, and that they were not racially motivated. He allegedly planned to drive to Florida and commit more murders, authorities said.
Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said during a press conference that Long claimed to have a “sexual addiction” and wanted to “eliminate the temptation.” Long told investigators he was a frequent customer at massage parlors.
”During his interview, he gave no indicators that this was racially motivated,” Sheriff Reynolds said. “We asked him that specifically and the answer was no.”
Still, the murder of six Asian women during the shooting spree has chilled Asian communities across the country who have been dealing with an increase in hate crimes and bias since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Stephanie Cho, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, said in a statement: “We are heartbroken by these acts of violence. Six Asian women lost their lives. Now is the time to hold the victims and their families in our hearts and in our light. We’re calling on our allies across communities of color to stand with us in grief and solidarity against racist violence in all its forms. When our most vulnerable community members are targeted, we all need to band together. While the details of the shootings are still emerging, this happened under the trauma of increasing violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fueled by white supremacy and systemic racism.”
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also condemned the shootings in a statement: “I commend law enforcement for their quick work in arresting a suspect in the tragic shootings on yesterday. A motive is still not clear, but a crime against any community is a crime against us all. I have remained in close contact with the White House and APD as they work with federal, state and local partners to investigate the suspect who is responsible for this senseless violence in our city. My prayers are with the families and friends of the victims whose lives were cut short by these shootings.”
Four Asian women were gunned down at two different spas in the 1900 block of Piedmont Road in northeast Atlanta. Three victims were found at Gold Spa, while a fourth was found across the street at Aromatherapy spa.
Just an hour earlier, four people were shot to death and a fifth wounded at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth. Two Asian women, a white woman, and a white male were killed at the location, while a Hispanic male was taken to an area hospital.
Long’s family alerted authorities after seeing news reports on the shootings. With their assistance, police were able to track Long’s cell phone and his location was sent to the Georgia State Patrol. Troopers used a pit maneuver to force Long’s vehicle to stop on I-75 in Crisp County, several hours south of Atlanta.
Check back for updates on this developing story.